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Constrained Curriculum in High Schools: The Changing Math Standards and Student Achievement, High School Graduation and College Continuation

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Published: 2012-02-20

Authors

Nathan Daun-Barnett

Edward P. St. John

University of Michigan

Keywords: college access; education policy evaluation

Abstract

Mathematics education is a critical public policy issue in the U.S. and the pressures facing students and schools are compounded by increasing expectations for college attendance after high school.  In this study, we examine whether policy efforts to constrain the high school curriculum in terms of course requirements and mandatory exit exams affects three educational outcomes – test scores on SAT math, high school completion, and college continuation rates.  We employ two complementary analytic methods – fixed effects and difference in differences (DID) – on panel data for all 50 states from 1990 to 2008. Our findings suggest that within states both policies may prevent some students from completing high school, particularly in the near term, but both policies appear to increase the proportion of students who continue on to college if they do graduate from high school. The DID analyses provide more support for math course requirement policies than mandatory exit exams, but the effects are modest. Both the DID and fixed effects analyses confirm the importance of school funding in the improvement of high school graduation rates and test scores.

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Author Biographies

Nathan Daun-Barnett

Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy

Executive Director, Office of University Preparatory Programs

Edward P. St. John

University of Michigan

Algo Henderson Professor of Education, Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education
PDF

Published: 2012-02-20

How to Cite

Daun-Barnett, N., & St. John, E. P. (2012). Constrained Curriculum in High Schools: The Changing Math Standards and Student Achievement, High School Graduation and College Continuation. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 20, 5. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v20n5.2012